MediaRadar Blog

NBA Playoffs

2018 NBA Playoffs Shoot and Score with Advertisers

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The National Basketball Association (the NBA) brought in over $730 million in ad revenue during the playoffs last year. When measured against the National Football League (the NFL), the National Hockey League (the NHL), and Major League Baseball (MLB) playoffs, however, the NBA only drew in 24% of the total ad spend, as The Drum mentions. Also, during the 2013 to 2014 and 2017 to 2018 seasons, the NBA’s share of postseason advertising revenue fell to 24%, from 32%, reports Forbes.

Despite these falls, though, the NBA did see a 63% renewal rate when comparing the companies that advertised in the 2017 playoffs to the 2018 playoffs. Furthermore, regardless of a slight dip of 9% in the number of companies advertising during its 92 playoff games (the amount of NBA playoff games rises and falls from season to season), the NBA playoffs attracted the most advertisers compared to the NFL, the NHL, and MLB playoff cycles last year. Forbes and The Drum both reiterated that the association garnered over 100 more advertisers than the next closest sport: the NFL.

Number of Playoff Advertisers by Sport YoY
The total number of playoff advertisers categorized by US sport year over year (YoY).

Companies Advertising for the 2018 NBA Playoffs

Last year’s NBA playoffs attracted approximately 130 different companies, who did not end up advertising during any of the other US sports playoffs. This included brands, such as JCPenneyGoodyear, and Garmin.

JCPenney MR logo

Goodyear MR logo

Garmin MR logo


The Top 5 Companies Spending in the NBA Were:

1. Hyundai

2. Constellation Brands

3. Yum! Brands

4. American Express  

5. PepsiCo

Total Companies Advertising During US Sports Playoffs chart
The total number of companies advertising during the 2018 US sports playoffs.

Top 3 Product Categories Spending During the 2018 NBA Playoffs

1. Retail 

  • After increasing its spend 28% year over year (YoY), Retail took over the number one spot from Technology as the leading product category.

2. Technology 

3. Financial 

One Retail-related category, Apparel and Accessories, was drawn to the NBA playoffs. This product category, seeking to align itself with the league most often associated with fashion, spent more advertising during the NBA playoffs than during the three other US sports playoffs combined.

Now, even NBA team jerseys can be fashion statements and advertisements.

Integrated Advertising in the NBA

In Integrated Advertising in Sports: The NBA, MediaRadar explains how integrated advertising is the most effective way for any brand to live noticeably within a piece of content without also disrupting an audience’s experience of that piece of content. Jersey patch ads are a great example of integrated advertising.

Below, is the New York Knicks 2018 White Nike Swingman jersey with a Squarespace logo in the upper right corner.

Knicks Jersey Ad
The New York Knicks’ 2018 White Nike Swingman jersey with Squarespace logo.

While Squarespace’s logo is not actually blue, the platform displays its logo in the Knicks’ blue on a white background in order to blend in with its surroundings and make it seem like you’re still looking at a normal Knicks‘ jersey. These integrated ads generally work well with team branding.

If you think of a New York Knicks jersey as a piece of content, then these brand logo ads are fairly well integrated as well as fairly profitable. For example, the Golden State Warriors’ sponsorship agreement with Rakuten was a deal for a 2.5 inch by 2.5 inch space worth $60 million over three years.


Overall, the NBA continues to attract more advertisers than any other US sports playoffs (and new ones at that) and retain the majority of them, in part because of the league’s association with fashion as well as integrated advertising like jersey patch ads. Over time, the NBA may prove to be even more profitable.